Fabarm XLR Chesapeake 12 Gauge Autoloading Waterfowl Gun

By Randy Wakeman

Photo by Randy Wakeman.

The Fabarm Chesapeake was originally announced as new for 2021, but due to supply chain and shipping issues is now a 2022 model. A few examples have made it to Fabarm dealers just recently. Sticker price is $1875, the dealer sets the actual transaction price, and left hand models are available. In the United States, you have a choice of 28 inch or 30 inch barrels.

The Chesapeake can be described as an enhanced version of the Fabarm Composite Hunter, or a flat 11-8mm tapered rib Cerakote version of XLR5 Waterfowler. The Chesapeake adds a beautiful midnight bronze Cerakote to the barrel and receiver. The Chesapeake retains a green plastic insert at the back of the receiver from the Composite Hunter which I find unsightly, unhelpful, and annoying. If you look straight down the barrel, you see the green insert, a bright chrome center bead, and finally a red light pipe. That may be festive, but for me it is just too much.

The test gun reviewed here was a bit dirty, used gun, missing a choke tube and having a duplicate 9/10 choke of the three supplied. One 9/10 choke is an extended choke, with the extended portion finished off in Cerakote to match the barrel, a very nice touch. According to the Fabarm website, you should expect four choke tubes, one of which is this extended tube. Why both a 9/10 extended tube and a 9/10 flush tube are supplied is beyond me: they throw the same patterns. All factory Fabarm choke tubes up to the 9/10 are steel and tungsten rated.

The Chesapeake as supplied weighs 7 lbs., 3.6 oz. The trigger breaks at a crisp 3 lbs., 13 oz. on average, which is far better than most factory autoloaders. A common question is why an XLR Chesapeake or XLR5 Waterfowler compared to a Fabarm L4S? Both the Chesapeake and XLR5 Waterfowler have larger trigger guards and more generous cross-bolt safeties, have synthetic stocks, and are a bit heavier. They are more wet and cold weather duck and goose blind suited than the prettier, more classic, blued steel and walnut L4S models.

The Chesapeake comes with a set of Hi-Viz light pipes, something that I personally find unwanted and distracting, but others don't share my view. In the fit and finish department, the black soft-comb insert on the buttstock is applied less than perfectly, for you can see a small white line of a gap around it, which is more pronounced to the rear.

I was able to get the unlubed Chesapeake to jam, but that was my fascinating imitation of an idiot forgetting to lube a new, dry gun. After using some Rem-Oil Pro Cubed on the action bars, the Fabarm Chesapeake handled everything from Fiocchi 1250 fps 1 oz. loads on up flawlessly.

Fabarm Italy makes the XLR Composite with 24 and 26 inch barrels. The slightly muzzle heavy XLR Chesapeake would be better balanced and better balanced with slightly shorter barrels. A 26 inch Chesapeake with an extended choke is still effectively a 27 inch barrel.


Beautifully done Cerakote, effortless to get off large safety, easy loading, very pleasant and grippy rubberized stock finish, superior Tri-Bore barrel that has no velocity loss compared to over-bored barrels, outstandingly good factory chokes, included factory shims, included and removable sling studs, soft shooting.


Green plastic receiver insert and light pipes, slightly front-heavy feel, peculiar selection of supplied chokes.

My feeling is that with a 24 or 26 inch barrel, the Chesapeake would be a terrific all-around hunting shotgun, suitable for everything from turkey to pheasant to Canadian geese. The receiver is machined to accept optics as well, something turkey hunters will love.

As is, my vote for Fabarm's best duck and goose gun still goes to the XLR5 Waterfowler True Timber Viper (above) that has a Cerakote receiver, but a camo barrel, and the unique Long Rib approach that extends onto the receiver.

For more info, see https://fabarmusa.com/xlr-chesapeake/ and your local Fabarm dealer.

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Copyright 2021 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.